BEST ALBUMS of 2010
Chock full of poppy gems and inspirational masterpieces, The Suburbs is poignant, thoughtful, aggressive, soothing, and fierce. Everything about it is relatable, and there’s no mood, situation, or time of day that isn’t perfect for throwing this album on.
[Razor & Tie]
When you combine Kevin Devine (alt rock God) and Andy Hull (Manchester Orchestra’s lovable frontman), how can you possibly expect anything but album of the year? It’s all the lyrics, all the love, and all the mind-blowing instrumentals you’ve been looking for. I judge you for not owning this yet.
Download: “You Wouldn’t Have to Ask”
Teen Dream is definitely Beach House’s most accessible album to date. Victoria Legrand’s hauntingly beautiful vocals weave around Alex Scally’s eerily hypnotic melodies creating a blissful soundscape that teases and taunts your eardrums.
If you’ve been looking for the perfect floating music for your everyday lifeâ€”look no further. This album has weaved its way into most days this year just for this good reason.
Download: “The Ghost Inside”
Halcyon Digest takes the best of every Deerhunter and Atlas Sound record to date and packages the goods together to make for one of the most satisfying and re-playable records in years. Standouts are “Don’t Cry,” and the epic, “He Would Have Laughed,” but there’s not a weak track on the record. The album will surely go down as a modern classic and a soundtrack for the year.
Download: “He Would Have Laughed”
LeBlanc’s songs are wise beyond his years, and this debut album should get a few solid spins. When you’re itching to crack that bottle of wine you’ve saved forever, we suggest this as your entertainment. (Being a little sad doesn’t hurt either.)
Download: “If the Creek Don’t Rise”
Every band should not only include a banjo, but should also tickle your ears until they fall off. Freelance Whales’ sweet indie-pop sounds even made their way into the mainstream being featured in various TV shows and commercials, including a spot for the social-media giant, Twitter. Weathervanes is an immediate go-to when a boost of happy is in need.
The Winter of Mixed Drinks
After singer Scott Hutchison recovered from the breakup he chronicled so powerfully in 2008’s The Midnight Organ Fight, it was hard not to wonder whether Frightened Rabbit could follow it up with another great album. Fortunately, The Winter of Mixed Drinks provided a resounding “yes.” Still gloriously anthemic, and deliciously angsty, but with a refreshingly positive bent. Song after song boasts great lyrics ripe for impassioned sing-alongs.
No Mas? Si, muchas mas por favor! Brooklyn’s mix tape/sample masters provided THE accompanying album for summer of 2010’s heat-induced debauchery.
Download: “We Ah Wi”
Have One On Me
There’s something about Newsom’s take it or leave it voice that solidifies this as one of the top albums of the year. Take her, please don’t leave her!
Download: “Does Not Suffice”
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and G.O.O.D Fridays
Kanye absolutely owned the second half of 2010. The first glimpse we saw of him was the super weird and awesome two-minute clip for “Power.” We got the best of Kanye: gnarly beats with guitar and auto-tune, and he was rapping again (thank God) with Graduation-esque ferocity. Then mid-August he started giving away music every Friday, starting with a remix of “Power” that featured mentor and friend, Jay-Z. It got better every week with all-star collaborations that came across as easy, effortless, and mind-blowingly good. Kanye was back at the center of not only the rap universe, bringing together everyone from Rick Ross to Pete Rock, but pop music in general. The Remix of “Runaway Love” pairing Kanye, Raekwon and Justin Bieber over the Wu’s, “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthin’ Ta F’ Wit,” was genius, and a lot of fun. “Christian Dior Denim Flow” was possibly the best rap song of the year with Kid Cudi, Kanye, Pusha T, and Lloyd Banks all in top form. He reminded everyone that he can do what he wants when he wants, and we should thank him for it.
Following their coming-out party at Coachella in April, the boys from Los Angeles found their way onto my iPod over and over again. Their amazing 4-part harmonies, crescendoing instrumentals and indie-rock stamina made Gorilla Manor a no-brainer for one of the top albums of 2010.
The Love Language
Stuart McLamb (aka The Love Language) snuck into a crowded field this year by going for broke with an album equally weighted by bombastic chamber-pop leanings and a variety of 60’s Pop influences. Few other artists this year could communicate the immersive, melodic tension felt by Libraries. For pure indie pop pleasure, few other albums rival McLamb’s whimsical touches.
Download: “Heart to Tell”
Matt & Kim
I can’t stop listening to this album…so fun, so sweet, so poppy…like eating Pinkberry in a sundress on your birthday while riding a pony, holding balloons, and being surrounded by fuzzy animals, and your favorite cartoon characters.
No other album penetrated me so deeply this year. Between the stunning, yet haunting music, thought-provoking lyrics, and baritone vocals of frontman, Matt Berninger, High Violet made my soul its home in 2010.
Abyss in B Minor
It’s as though My Bloody Valentine never stopped playing music. Brooding, dark, layered, and amazing…hopefully they won’t wait another 5 years before their next release.
Download: “Ayisha Abyss”
[Mom + Pop Records]
It took a former hardcore guitarist (Poison the Well’s Derek Miller) to show us a new vision of pop music. Sleigh Bells’ songs are speaker-bustingly heavy, with Alexis Krauss’ voice soaring above the addictively danceable beats and crunching guitars.
Download: “Tell ‘Em”
The Soft Moon
The Bay Area’s own, Luis Vasquez, is bringing goth back into fashion. His album offers a dark industrial sound, perfect for escapism into nightmares.
Download: “Tiny Spiders”
New folk, blah. Not another dirty hippie..or so we thought. I was completely blindsided by Stornoway’s indie folk. Beachcomber’s Windowsill is a pretty album. Plain and simple. Moments of pure poetry and surprisingly mature harmonies and melodies wrapped up in an ocean of emotional highs and desperate lows.
Download: “I Saw You Blink”
The hardest working band of 2010, hands down. Was there a festival this band didn’t play? They’ve been compared to power pop icons Weezer. On the surface, maybe. But there’s something beyond the hooky power chords and confident groans of singer John Paul Pitts that strikes me. Youthful and honest compositions are the real treat, a platter of ambitious tones and textures that sometimes include West African rhythms.
Download: “Floating Vibes”
Titus Andronicus frontman and talented wordsmith Patrick Stickles hit on a perfect formula on The Monitor, setting big ideas and big feelings (see: Conor Oberst) to big New Jersey Rock (see: Bruce Springsteen), with the occasional Irish jig thrown in for good measure (see: The Pogues). Don’t be intimidated by the whole “Civil War concept album” thing – you’ll get to jump up and down and sing along to refrains ranging from “the enemy is everywhere” to “you will always be a loser.”
Download: “Four Score and Seven (part one)”
Becoming a Jackal
Frontman Connor O’Brien is Irish and looks very similar to Connor Oberst. That aside, Â debut record Becoming a Jackal is the sole reason I’ve ruined a perfectly good pair of chucks this in 2010. Two miles in light rain in San Francisco does not work well with canvas shoes. What does work well with a canvas though is O’Brien and his ability to write beautifully happy, yet haunting songs.
Download: “Twenty-Seven Strangers”
King of the Beach
Wavves’ latest effort, King of the Beach, has a much more grown up sound than previous releases. The trio keeps much of the fast, sunny, lo-fi punk noise, but ditches some of the excess murkiness and distortion. It sounds like the album was actually recorded in a studio rather than an old van. The noise is still there, the effects are still gloriously sloppy, it’s just been cleaned up a bit. The music actually has room to breath without fighting through the noise.
Download: “Super Soaker”
New wave meets shoegaze and dream pop. A perfect album while you’re driving your car while the sun is setting. An album that will make you feel good without imposing itself at any time.